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  Thursday, 14 November, 2002, 23:32 GMT
Tigana lauds Malbranque
Steed Malbranque celebrates Fulham's winner with scorer Luis Boa Morte
Tigana said Malbranque (right) is one of his best signings

Fulham manager Jean Tigana singled out Steed Malbranque for praise after the midfielder dramatically turned around his side's Uefa Cup tie with Dinamo Zagreb.

Malbranque scored one and set up another in injury time after coming on as a late substitute.

And the win ended a run of four successive defeats and continued the Cottager's fine form in their first ever season in Europe.

"I wanted to protect Steed as he has played 24 games this season," Tigana said, defending his decision not to play Malbranque from the start.


Our priority remains the Premier League
Jean Tigana
"So I gave Junichi Inamoto and Lee Clark a match. It was a good game to use those players.

"I wanted to keep Steed on the bench - but when they scored, I decided to change it.

"He's a good player but can still progress and give more.

He's one of my best signings, but not only him, also Alain Goma and Louis Saha."

However, despite his side having now gone 12 games undefeated in the Uefa and Intertoto Cups, Tigana insisted domestic football remained his priority.

"Our priority remains the Premier League," Tigana said after the match.

"I will not pay attention to the (UEFA Cup third round) draw on Friday. It is not my problem right now."

Meanwhile Dinamo coach Miroslav Blazevic insisted his team were unfortunate to have been beaten on the night.


We were eliminated by the better team
Miroslav Blazevic
"I believe we were the better side tonight and deserved to win, but not everything is so logical," Blazevic said.

"If we had taken our chances, I believe we could have had a sensational comeback. But in the end we paid heavily for the result in the first leg.

"My team were very brave and dictated the tempo of the game. But we were eliminated by the better team."

But Blazevic was critical of Zagreb forward Bosko Balaban, currently on loan from Aston Villa.

Balaban, who has not been a success since his 5.8m move to Villa Park, was watched by Villa manager Graham Taylor, but Blazevic doubted the former England manager was impressed.

"I didn't talk to Graeme Taylor tonight, but I don't believe he would be happy with Balaban as this was one of his weakest performances," he said.

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 ON THIS STORY
BBC Five Live's Mark Pougatch
"It wasn't entirely convincing from Fulham"

Second round, 2nd leg

Second round, 1st leg

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